O, BULGARIAN CUISINE!
O, food… O spicy spiciness, salty saltiness and sweet sweetness… – O, Bulgarian Cuisine!
Now get into your 5 senses…which pops into your mind first? Perhaps it will be your sense of taste.
This is NOT just a list of Traditional Bulgarian dishes that you must try! This is a Guide for a day in the Life of one true Bulgarian.
Wake up with the local hens, dogs bark… or just the traffic. What Bulgarians eat in the morning?! Pancakes, eggs, sausages, fruits, vegetables – absolutely. But what do they really start with?
Popara „попара“– this is a combination of bread, sugar, hard white cheese and either tea or hot milk. Sometimes we put honey, sometimes butter, but in general if the bread is from the last week we will either fry it with eggs or crumble it in hot milk/tea.
Panagyurski’s Eggs – imagine now Eggs Benedict but instead of Hollandaise sauce we put yogurt with garlic and on the top – fried paprika with melted butter… Yummy
Banitsa – pastry filled with white hard cheese, eggs, butter and yogurt. We also eat the Banitsa while drinking Ayran (yogurt with salt and water). Sometimes can be sweet.
Mekici and Buhtichki – O Mama Mia … kneaded dough made with yogurt that is deep fried often powdered with sugar or garnished with jam, honey and white hard cheese. Double Yummy
Let’s start with the tomatoes… You can call it Shopska’s Salad, Harvester’s Salad too… or the Buffalo Heart Tomatoes with the White Hard Cheese… People are always amazed by the size and the taste of the Bulgarian Pink tomato, often called the Buffalo’s heart between the locals. Yes, they do not have the perfect shape, but OMG they certainly have the perfect taste.
Dairy lovers may be aware that the bacteria strain needed to produce yoghurt’s mild texture is called Lactobacillus Bulgaricus. But did you know that these natural bacteria are found only in mammals and plants living in Bulgaria? It’s true! Yogurt… Yep. It is definitely a MUST TRY. We put yogurt on anything, we drink yogurt on breakfast, on lunch and on dinner with the local brandy (Rakija)… we have summer soup made of yogurt called “Tarator”(salt, garlic, cucumbers and dill)… and we are using it even against sunburn … the hangover too… I will have to write till tomorrow..
Here comes the weird meat guts and inwards, fried and topped with lots of spices. We have this strange Tripe Soup called – Shkembe Chorba that Bulgarians sometimes have it even in the morning. Why? Because it’s spicy, buttery and with guess what – garlic, vinegar and chili, and that my friend really helps with hangovers. Bulgarians order beer with it, strangely enough.
But let’s say that you are not up to this soup really. What would be the first choice of one Bulgarian for lunch? Salad or Tarator as a starter and we continue with Meatballs – Kiufteta „Кюфтета“ , Meat fingers – Kebapcheta „Кебапчета“ , Ribs „Ребра“ … Pulneni Chushki „Пълнени Чушки“ (filled peppers with meat and rice or potatoes) ask the waiter for the Lunch Menu (it is cheaper and everything is cooked just recently, so it will come right away).
And just about to forget the most important thing – the bread. If you come across Purlenka (flat baked bread look like pizza but it’s topped with butter, garlic and savory) or Gypsy Banitsa (fried bread with butter and different spices, again with garlic) – IT IS A MUST.
Salad, of course! We eat the salad as an appetizer, but not only! Actually the salad is our starter, main course and dessert. Like you would probably order French fries (which are not French) with your beer, Bulgarians will order Shopska’s Salad with their Rakija (strong alcoholic drink and NO – it is not digestive shot, although it helps a lot with the digestive process…) People around the world would mostly prefer strong alcohol in a combination with soft drink, meanwhile Bulgarians would drink the Rakija with Tarator in a glass (or Ayran).
While waiting for the main course you would probably think of some bread and butter… But wait a second. You are in Bulgaria! Order cold plate with some dry meat cuts (Lukanka – dried strong flavoured meat, Fillet Elena – dry cured ham, Sudjuk – dry spicy sausage etc), white cheese and breaded chicken fingers.
Most of our traditional meals are cooked in a huge clay pots. If a Bulgarian does not have one in their kitchen he is probably not a Bulgarian. You should look for Guvech „Гювеч“ or Kavurma (meat mixed with vegetables). The small portion would be Gyuveche, but be careful, because often you might find Sirene po Shopski „Сирене по Шопски“ (Shopsko’s cheese – white hard cheese cooked with tomatoes) which is cooked in a small clay pot but has completely different taste. For the meat lovers, don’t miss the Kapama „Капама” (seasonal dish, you will find it mostly during the winter – combination of sauerkraut and meat) or Sach „Сач“(grilled or fried pieces of meat and vegetables again served in a clay pot).
We continue with the drinks and the salad. So don’t be surprised if the waiter leaves all the plates on the table and especially the salad. If you want a clean table than probably you are about to leave the Restaurant and next thing you will receive will be the bill.
This is a women thing. The guys would probably order another drink while the women will finish with Biskvitena Torta (home-made creamy biscuit cake with milk and white vanilla cream). Cream Caramel or Pancakes with chocolate, but sometimes you can find Sweet Banica (the pastry from the morning but this time filled with pumpkin/apple and sugar) and Sutliaj – „Сутляж“(milk with rice and sugar)
In OVERALL Bulgarians eat a lot of things that involve yogurt and white hard cheese, garlic, spices and mostly chili. And don’t forget the tomatoes…
If you decide to do a day like this one I can only wish you LUCK and tell you to be careful with the Rakija. Keep the camera away from your friends too 😉
Looking for more ideas:
- History & Culture
- Wine, SKI & SPA Getaway
- Nature & Outdoor activities
- Festivals and more …
- Day trips from Sofia
IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR A PRIVATE TOUR AND WANT TO DISCOVER MORE THAN THE TOURIST SIGHTS, THAN YOUR GUIDES ARE WAITING FOR YOU…
Did we get your attention? Let’s start our journey through Bulgaria together and discover it all!